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Quint interviews HALO director Neill Blomkamp!!!

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with an interview with Neill Blomkamp, who was announced yesterday as directing the HALO film. I'm pretty sure this is the first interview he's done about his plans for adapting the popular game to the big screen. The movie doesn't come out until 2008, so there's still lots of work being done and some specifics that couldn't be answered in the below interview, but I believe you'll get a good grasp on how Blomkamp is approaching the material.

I'm a huge fan of the HALO games and I'm not alone. HALO 2 grossed more than most movies. This one can be huge if pulled off correctly and Blomkamp is saying all the right things below. I greatly look forward to seeing what he can do! If you don't know the games at all, there might be some twists and turns spoiled below. Fair warning! Enjoy the interview!!!

Quint: First and foremost, are you a fan of the games?

Neill Blomkamp: From a purely game playing perspective I am a massive fan of the games, but more importantly, i'm a massive fan of the world and universe of Halo, the science fiction world that the games take place inside of.

Quint: Which do you prefer, HALO or HALO 2?

Neill Blomkamp: From a playing perspective I like both. But from a conceptual and story perspective I prefer Halo 1.

Quint: You've worked in special effects before and have done many short films, commercials and videos. Did you do shorts like ALIVE IN JOBURG specifically to break into features with something like HALO?

Neill Blomkamp: No, I mean I’ve always wanted to eventually get into directing features, and it’s certainly where I want to be, but there was never a path or a specific plan to do that. Those pieces in a weird way I made for myself, it was just a learning process.

I have to be doing something creative all the time, I like just rolling up my sleeves and just making stuff, for the sake of learning, or experimenting, or messing around, shorts can be better than pretty much anything for that. Commercials I was beginning to find uncreative because your end goal is to sell a product, and music videos are really great, but you can't really have dialogue, so I just defaulted to making my own pieces on the side of doing commercials, and ironically they seem better known then all the commercials, except that one for Adidas which was basically a short.

Quint: Are you nervous about tackling a movie as big as HALO as your first feature?

Neill Blomkamp: No, I’m not. I certainly respect how complex it is, and how much focus is required. There will be some very hard times, with tons of pressure but you work through it. I am so invested in it from a creative standpoint that my eye just stays on the end goal, I keep focused on making it exactly how I want it and treat every day as a path to that final product, plus the support from the New Zealand team is really amazing, its not like i’m out in the woods alone, they’ve done this back to back for like 10 years.

Quint: What's your approach to the film? How do you plan on being faithful to the game while giving the audience something new?

Neill Blomkamp: I think you can be faithful to the game and just begin to layer things that have not yet been seen, over the fabric of what exists. You don’t want people who know the game to see the film and not have anything that isn’t new.

Quint: How has working with Weta and Peter Jackson been?

Neill Blomkamp: Working with Weta is amazing. Just such a creative group under one roof, it feels really good for me to able to collaborate with all of them, see the designs start finding their way into reality. Very rewarding, in a way I feel like I’ve found my home, all these people interested in the same stuff.

Peter is really great, a vault of knowledge, not only from a creative perspective, but also on a technical and logistical one.

Learning as much as I can about how to streamline this process and make everything be more efficient, its good to just throw things his way and see how he has already dealt with whatever it is, 100 times before.

Quint: How faithful do you plan on staying to the design of Master Chief's armor?

Neill Blomkamp: Master Chief is certainly something that I do not want to change too much at all, there are certain things inside the Halo universe that are sacred and he’s the main one.

Having said that, there is a need to revise certain parts of him, just from a purely technical standpoint, he has to actually be able to move, like a human, and the game design right now does not allow for full motion freedom, which we will have to achieve.

Quint: Guy in a suit? CGI creation? Mixture of both?

Neill Blomkamp: Well, the film has to have a feeling of reality, and so that means that I want to keep him real as much as I can, there is a necessity for him to become cg in sequences where a guy in a suit would just not work, but for the most part I am aiming for real.

Quint: Will we see Master Chief's face?

Neill Blomkamp: You’ll have to wait and see.

Quint: As far as Master Chief's voice, will you consider Steve Downes, who voiced the character for the games or will you more than likely go with a bigger name?

Neill Blomkamp: It’s just too early to be able to know anything like that yet.

Quint: What do you feel is most important in bringing the Covenant to life?

Neill Blomkamp: Well, the most important thing is that viewer thinks they are looking at something that lives and breathes, and exists, so from an organic standpoint they have to be believable, they also need to be terrifying, and alien, and the best way to start doing that is to break that human silhouette, although many of them are bipedal anatomically, you can still shift the overall body to be something very alien, their motion must be alien too, the audience has to get a kick out of how real and menacing these things are, and how believable they are too.

Quint: Will any of the aliens be done practically?

Neill Blomkamp: Right now there is one of them that might very well end up being all practical.

Quint: How about The Flood? What's your take on The Flood? That aspect has always been my favorite of the games.

Neill Blomkamp: I absolutely love the flood, more importantly I love infected humans and covenant, so that will absolutely have its place in the film. Halo is a perfect project for me, because it contains so many different things that fascinate me, one of which is the idea of biological evolution, and the flood is essentially a virus, it is a near perfect organism in terms of how resilient it is against natural threats, this feeling of evolution and why organisms evolve a certain way ties into the covenant and even the humans. And then of course on a pure thrill ride basis having the audience run into the flood in a narrow dark hallway is awesome.

Quint: I know this is very early, but will any of Marty O'Donnell's score from the game make it over to the film? Is he a contender to compose the score for the movie?

Neill Blomkamp: It’s just way too early for any decisions like that

Quint: Are you planning any location shooting or will you be doing mostly green screen work?

Neill Blomkamp: I’m in the process now of sorting through all of our options, figuring all of that out, in the end the method is irrelevant as long as the audience is transported completely believably to where we need to put them, and so that’s the goal that everything needs to revolve around.

Quint: What's the overall tone you want to strike with the movie? Escapist, big budget action fun? Gritty, realistic future war? Neither? Both?

Neill Blomkamp: Well, I don’t want to give away exactly how I want to be, but, big budget action can certainly look very similar to 100 other films which are big budget action, so my goal is to make something that is honestly unique and a radical departure from stuff we are used to.

I’ve been given the resources and the source material to make something awesome, so I have to really invest myself 100% in a film that I love every frame of, and for me to love every frame means it has to have something that sets it apart.

Fans of the game should love this film, people who don’t know the game should be transported to a place that blows them away for two hours.

And that's what I got with the man. Like I said in the intro, he says all the right things and the word I'm hearing from my studio plants is that more than any other previous person attached to the project, Neill gets it. I hope they're right. The proof is in the pudding as they say, but any fears I would have with the guy are put on hold for the moment. Lots of giant steps in the future for him... casting, creative team (cinematographer, composer) and, of course, shooting the thing. He has the right attitude and a few aces up his sleeve already with the support of Weta Workshop, Weta Digital and Peter Jackson. He's either going to emerge from this with a great movie and become a new giant name in the business or he's going to end his career with one faulty film. I don't see too much gray area.

As a fan of the game, I want him to succeed... I just want my badass HALO movie... and I wish him the best of luck with it.


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